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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

17 November 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

For any art lovers nostalgic for David Cameron and the ‘Notting Hill set’, Rakewell is happy to report that Christmas has come early. Rona Marsden’s painting of the young Cameron and his Bullingdon Club chums posing on the steps of Christ Church, Oxford, is up for sale at Mallams Auctioneers in December. The 1987 photograph on which the painting is based first appeared in public in the Mail on Sunday in 2007, but Gillman & Soame – the photography firm that held the copyright to the image – soon withdrew permission to republish it, leading some to suggest that the then opposition leader was embarrassed by his youthful posturing. Denied the chance to reproduce the photo, the BBC commissioned Marsden to create a painting based on it, and the rest, as they say, is history – history that could be yours for north of £5,000.


In a colourful speech a few weeks back, transport minister John Hayes described much of the UK’s rail and bus station architecture of the 20th century as ‘aesthetically worthless’ and urged for an end to the ‘Cult of Ugliness’ that he feels has reigned supreme across the networks. But not everyone is in agreement, it seems. In its weekly culture news e-mail, former culture minister Ed Vaizey’s team duly reported Hayes’s speech, adding a caveat: ‘Luckily he doesn’t know that Ed listed [brutalist building] Preston bus station.’


To Lisbon, where a hapless Brazilian visitor to the city’s National Museum of Ancient Art was struck by an urgent desire to take a selfie next to a polychrome wooden statue of the Archangel Saint Michael classed as a ‘national treasure’ by the Portuguese government. Positioning himself in a prime spot, the tourist accidentally tripped and sent the statue crashing to the ground. The damage, according to deputy director Jose Alberto Seabra Carvalho, is ‘severe but reversible’ (and, the Rake might add, was surely entirely preventable).


‘Animality’, a new show at London’s Mariam Goodman gallery, has raked in the critical plaudits since opening earlier this month. And small wonder: the show, an exploration of animals in art, opened with a seance led by artist Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, at which he attempted to contact the spirits of dead birds. According to The Art Newspaper’s Louisa Buck, the event was ‘super-strict and very solemn with a prompt start and no entrance for latecomers’ – herself included. Fortunately, the Rake had the foresight to send in a mole. The verdict? ‘Plain weird’, apparently.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via@Rakewelltweets.